“A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.” -Plato

If you are a fundraiser and you like statistics, you probably get excited when the latest edition of Giving USA, The Chronicle of Philanthropy 400 or other similar reports are released. With the genesis of infographics, it’s even easier to quickly see the key points of the data.

But the hard part is figuring out, “What does it mean to my organization?” After all, the vast majority of nonprofits in the United States — 99.9745394180729 percent to be exact – won’t be in the 400 listing this year, and most had a pretty small slice of the Giving USA pie.

So when it comes to numbers, what really matters is much closer to home: it’s how you use your own statistics that show the overall health of your fundraising program.

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project, co-sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, is fascinating … and a bit depressing, too. (If you haven’t read the latest update, check out the infographic from Bloomerang.)

But don’t stop there. The Fundraising Effectiveness Program provides a “downloadable Excel-based FEP Fundraising Fitness Test that allows nonprofits to measure and evaluate their fundraising programs against a set of over 100 performance indicators by five donor giving levels,” according to the their website where you’ll find links to download the spreadsheets and instructions to use them.

But maybe the biggest treasure is their guide that tells you what to do once you have all these statistics for your own fundraising program so you make “more informed, growth-oriented decisions about where to invest increased resources in fundraising.”

Love numbers but not sure how to make them mean something to your organization’s fundraising program? Thanks to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, you can skip the “but what does it mean?” stage and go straight to “so this is what I will do next!”